How much new pitching will the Yankees need in 2012?

The unquestioned stud of the upcoming free agent class is Rangers’ lefty C.J. Wilson, which pretty much says it all. Wilson is having a fine year, but he’s spent much of his career as a reliever, which is both a blessing and a curse. How do you project what the next six years are going to look like for him? He’s also 31 years old, though he has less mileage on his arm due to those years working out of the bullpen. Beyond Wilson, there’s basically nothing. Edwin Jackson and Mark Buehrle are decent pitchers to be sure, but they don’t seem like a fit financially for the Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda is an attractive option, but he doesn’t seem eager to leave the West Coast. And the best name on the list after that is probably Javier Vazquez. Yeah.

The wild card in the mix is Japanese youngster Yu Darvish, who most people expect to be posted this offseason, with the Yankees almost certain to be in the mix for his services. Darvish is probably the only outsider I’m truly interested in as a potential free agent acquisition, and if he can’t be acquired I honestly hope the Yankees don’t do anything on the free agent market this winter.

I hate to use the term “bridge year” but, well, that’s what I think 2012 is likely to be for the Yankees’ rotation. Looking at things as they stand now, C.C. Sabathia (assuming he’s re-signed) and Ivan Nova are obviously locks for a spot, and Phil Hughes probably should be as well unless he has an atrocious spring. And while I wouldn’t mind A.J. Burnett spending the remaining two seasons on his contract in the bullpen, I think it’s pretty safe to assume he’ll get another chance to right the ship at the beginning of 2012. So that leaves one spot open, a spot sme are already imagining Wilson filling, something I really hope doesn’t come to pass. It’s not that Wilson isn’t a good pitcher, it’s that I fear the sort of contract he’s likely to get. There was talk of a Burnett-esque deal earlier in the year, but after the season he’s turned in this season and the scarcity of good options on the market, I think it’s pretty likely he’ll be getting something in the 6 year $100 million range.

Another factor to consider is that, in the longer term, the Yankees aren’t necessarily starved for pitching right now. Beyond Sabathia, Nova, and Hughes, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances figure to arrive soon, and the Bombers have other youngsters like Hector Noesi, David Phelps, and Adam Warren who might be able to fill a short-term hole, and who knows, they might even surprise us. You also have to consider that, right now, the 2013 free agent class is quite deep in pitching, with Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Shaun Marcum, Zack Greinke, John Danks, and Francisco Liriano scheduled to headline the ranks. Some of those guys will get signed, but at least a few of them will likely make it to the market.

So on the whole, I think I’m more or less fine with letting the young guys currently in the organization have a crack at that 5th starter spot next year, or maybe even bringing back Bartolo Colon for another campaign. Either way, you can consider this the official launch of my “Just say no to C.J. Wilson!” campaign.


About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

48 thoughts on “How much new pitching will the Yankees need in 2012?

  1. Clayton Kershaw is about to hit arbitration, and I don't see him making less than $8 million next year (the number the Giants filed for in Timmay's first year – they wound up settling). Given McBroke's financial woes, he'd have to listen if the Yanks came calling, right?

    • I really doubt it. If MLB is serious about keeping the Dodgers a sound franchise, there's little chance someone like Kershaw would be moved while being so drastically underpaid, unless the Dodgers were getting a king's ransom or prospects in return.

      • The problem the Dodgers are facing is that their other big-money players aren't likely to draw very much interest. They're paying $11.5 million next year to Manny and Jones – completely dead money. They're paying $12.75 million to Juan Uribe and Matt Guerrier – nobody's touching that. They'd have to eat almost all of Ted Lilly's contract to move him, and they'll probably pick up Casey Blake's option just because Ned Colletti can't help himself. Billingsley's going to make $9 million next year, and Kershaw, Kemp and Ethier are all due massive raises in arbitration. The Dodgers still have to fill nineteen (!) other spots just on the twenty-five, likely with only $20 million or so, if they try to keep all four of Billingsley, Kershaw, Kemp and Ethier. Far more likely is that they trade one of them, and Kershaw would easily bring back the largest bounty. If Montero is involved, that makes it easier for LA to cut the cord on James Loney (something they should do anyway) and save money at first base while still having somebody competent man the position. The ability of the Yankees to give the Dodgers multiple players ready to contribute for the league minimum might be too much for LA to turn down.

  2. I think I agree that CJ will most likely get an absurd contract next year, but I'm curious how much you think he is really worth.

    • 5-6 years and ~$100 million doesn't really seem unfair to me. I just don't think the Yankees are in desperate need of pitching over the next 3-4 years to make that kind of commitment to a 31 year old with a short track record. Just too unnecessarily risky is all.

  3. Not Javy. Not unless we can pry Pavano away from the Twins to go with him.

    All of what you've posted just goes towards CC making totally insane demands and getting them – so that in 4 years, we end up with the second coming of A-Rod on the pitching mound – or in the whirlpool.

    Lets hope long and hard that the "kids" come thru – cuz there isn't much out there, unless we can count on the same luck we had this year with Garcia and Colon.

    • "Not Javy. Not unless we can pry Pavano away from the Twins to go with him. "

      i just threw up in my shoe. actually, both of them.

  4. I for one would not mind letting the kids fight it out. If they fail, we can say we tried. Everyother team has to do this. Imagine if the Yankees went this way and told free agents that this is how they are doing business. Maybe freeagent prices come down for the team. They do seem to have a Yankee price tag compared to what other teams pay.

    • I honestly think the Yankees will be just fine with some mix of Colon, Noesi, Phelps, and Warren holding down the last spot and providing insurance for Burnett for one year. After next year I think we'll have a better idea of what to expect from Banuelos and Betances, and the 2013 free agent class to play with.

      If Hamels actually hits the market, I fully endorse signing him though.

      • screw the FA market, which sucks…. there should be some available pitchers on the trade market this offseason before they hit FA in 2012/13. i say go Phillies style and make a move for a solid #2 and then roll into 2013 with a mix of established vets along with our homegrown kids.

        either way the system has a TON of pitching, they need to decide who are keepers and deal the rest (or most anyway to maintain a bit of depth/emergency callups) for an established pitcher.

        it's great that we can think long term considering some of our homegrown talent, but we can't hug all the prospects.

  5. First let me say, I dont want CJ Wilson. What he will demand in his contract is not a reason I dont want him. The Yankees do not get hamstrung by bad contracts. Look at the contracts that Arod, Jeter Posada and Burnett have gotten in recent years. It has not hurt the Yankees ability to operate at all. I dont want CJ Wilson because I think we need to fish or cut bait with whats in the system. I would resign Colon for One year. I would have Warren and Phelps and Noesi ptiching in AAA in case someone gets hurt or ideally I would try to trade for a legit number one or two starting pitcher. Who that is I dont know. I dont like to make up trades. But everyone knows the list of the top 25 pitchers in baseball. Who will be available in November, December and January is anyone's guess..

    If it were up to me, I would resign CC once he opts out and I would resign Colon and/Garcia. This would give the Yankees 5 starters coming out of spring training, with 5 pitchers at AAA who could fill in. I would also look into Darvish. I would go nuts on the posting fee and then play hardball with contract. I would offer him a 3 year 25 million dollar deal and he could take it or go back Japan. I would also not guarantee him a spot in the rotation and start him in the minors. This would give the Yankees 5 pitcher at the Major League level and then Phelps, Warren, Noesi, Banuealos, Betances and Darvish in the minors. I would even be open to the idea of having these 6 compete with Hughes and Colon for a rotation spot, but ideally they would all start the year in the minors. I

    An ideal situation would allow the Yankees to trade some of their depth in SP for a legit ace to go with CC. But i dont know how realistic that is at this point.

  6. But seriously, would anyone complain if we went into the season with a rotation of CC, CJ Wilson, Nova, Darvish, and Hughes?

  7. Actually, the Yankees need to go after Wilson. He's a very solid pitcher and left-handed (always a plus in Yankee Stadium) I can't see people like Colon, Garcia and Burnette in the rotation in 2012. You need several ace starters to win championships and the Yanks only have one (CC Sabarthia).

    We may see something like:

    1) Sabathia

    2) Wilson

    3) Nova

    4) Darvish

    5) Hughes

    • I’m all for Wilson. Even Darvish. I can’t see BOTH, however. That’s a wee bit frothy.

      However, given the lust for Betances and Banuelos, are we/the team ready to keep these two down on the farm another year? What if Betances dazzles down the stretch?

      Dave Cameron on ESPN has a GREAT article about Wilson and why his lack of IP/track record is a good thing for prospective interested parties:… (Insider sub required, sorry).

      Of note: “By the time a pitcher has satisfied the six-year service time minimum and been granted the rights to free agency, he’s already put a lot of mileage on his arm, and in most circumstances, his best days are behind him.

      That’s what makes C.J. Wilson such an appealing free agent, and the free-agent pitcher who should be most attractive to big-league clubs this winter.

      Because he began his career in the bullpen, the Rangers’ left-handed ace has thrown just a minuscule 670 2/3 innings thus far in his major-league career. For comparison, CC Sabathia has thrown 678 2/3 innings since the beginning of the 2009 season alone. Wilson’s career workload is just a fraction of what most starting pitchers bring to the table when they reach free agency. “

      • great post Jason… your articles are the reason i came here in the first place. we do have a log jam of sorts with AJ signed for two more and the likes of Nova, Hughes and AJ. maybe they joba Hughes to the pen if he continues to refuse to work on his change or another out pitch; his stuff/command isn't good enough to rock two pitches plus a "show me" so we'll see.

        if they bounced Hughes to the pen it would be a bit easier to make room for another guy on top of CC, CJ/Yu, Nova, AJ, Betances/Banuelos in 2013.

        2012 i could see them bringing back my favorite pitcher, the Bartman, as he is less likely to be looking for multiple years than Garcia. We need a stop-gap for 2012 while the B's figure it out/flame out in AAA.

        too much pitching isn't a problem, we just have to find out where to put them.

  8. IMHO

    Darvish >>>>> Wilson (assuming Darvish is posted)

    Even if dollars are the same the cost for Darvish will be significantly less once you factor in luxury tax and loss of draft pick.

    The reliever aspect is interesting wrt Wilson but I wonder if it is pitches not innings that are more of a factor. Also warming up but not getting used doesn't add to an inning count.

    • If the cost of Darvish even approaches the cost of Wilson I'd bail on Darvish quickly. The history of Japanese imports isn't nearly good enough to be giving up that much money for.

        • Likely looking in excess of $110 million split near down the middle between posting and contract. The good thing about Darvish (for those that are concerned about the Yankees luck with Japanese pitching prospects) is that he's only half Japanese (dad is Iranian) and is widely considered more talented than any Japanese pitcher…ever. He's also been used to the media spotlight and seems to relish it (relatively speaking). 26 year old, 6'5" pitcher that can hit 97 on the radar gun with matinee idol looks…and after all it's only money :)

      • On one hand you got guys like Ichiro and Hideki Matsui, on the other hand you got guys like Kaz Matsui, Hideki Irabu (may he rest in peace), Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa. In the middle you have Koji Uehara and Kaz Sasaki. You never gonna know what you get from a import, but it's not worth the risk of seeing Darvish become a stud with the Sox or any other team for that matter.

        • I agree that you have to take a shot when talking about a guy like Darvish. You never know what you'll get with a free agent either. All you can do is take a risk when you see a possibility for a big score. I just hope the Yankees aren't too gunshy and afraid of media reaction after the Igawa disaster. But I think the Yankees understand they need to make a move like this to keep their standing in the Japanese market. That visibility is part of what made Hideki Matsui such a great addition.

  9. They need another pitcher (external); you almost never get through a season with 6 starters yet alone 5. If you let Noesi, Banuelos (who probably needs more time in the minors), Warren, etc battle it out for #5…. the loser of that competition is your 6th starter who will almost certainly see significant time.

    I'm also not sold on Hughes… even if his velocity comes back, he's more of a back of the rotation starter (his numbers suggested this when he was an 18 game winner). There are two many 4/5's after CC (Burnett, Hughes, Nova, winner of the 5th spot) and while Nova may step up a bit, that's a formula that might work in the reg season but is an iffy rotation come postseason. Just imagine that rotation if they make it next postseason… Hughes/Burnette/ Banuelos (or Noesi) will be two of the 4 starters? Nova would be the #2?

    I'm not sure if WIlson is the answer (I wonder how his stuff will age if he gets a long contract), so I think the Yankees look for a 1 year deal (ala Colon/Garcia this year) and have Noesi/Banuelos available when the inevitable injury crops up (or if Cash/Girardi abandon ship on Burnett later in the year). Even though a scrapheap pickup doesn't fix the lack of #2/3 it at least gives the Yankees some depth in rotation and allows a guy like Baneulos to at least start the year in the minors and develop some more (if he starts in the majors, he's going to likely have an innings limit leading to an end ot the year mess again)

    • Sabathia, Nova, Hughes, Burnett, Colon, Noesi, Warren, and Phelps. That's 8 starters without even including Banuelos and Betances.

      Keep in mind I'm not saying the Yankees' rotation is good enough that they couldn't use an upgrade, I'm just saying it's not so bad that they need to make a big commitment to C.J. Wilson in a bad market, when they can wait out their youngsters and maybe add something from the free agent class next year.

  10. Colon is not signed…. he (maybe not him specifically) would be the type of 1 year guy I was talking about.

    Also don't see Warren and Phelps as highly as some…. I could see spot starts for them, but 1-2 months if there is an injury (or more if Hughes or Burnett flame out)?

  11. Why not just keep what's there?

    CC + Nova as starters
    Hughes (should be recovered next year), Burnett (won't get rid of him, Garcia, Colon (the riskiest option due to age, fastball reliance and innings difference 2010/11) to battle for 3 spots in spring training, with the loser as supersub.

    Not sure if going for Darvish is a good idea. An unknown quantity for a lot of money in a foreign land. Does he speak English? Even if he gets signed it'd probably be better to give him some time in the minors to adjust.

    • with the season that Garcia has had I don't see him puttering around in a ST battle for a rotation spot. if i were him i would be looking for a 2-3 year deal worth 4-5M a season and finish out my career…. sure i'd love to do it in the BX but that isn't likely.

      I see Colon as the guy who is more likely to take a one year deal, not sweaty freddy.

  12. Assuming we resign CC, the only free agent I would like to see the Yankees sign is Darvish as well. Japan is kind of like a AAAA system. If Darvish had the kind of years in the Yankees AAA system as he has put up the last 5 in Japanese Laegue he would be our number 1 pitching prospect, and one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, based on results. Its the kind of high risk high reward move that we wish the Yankees take with the amateur draft. Darvish is only going to be 25 also. He will be put in the rotation immediately because of the innings he has amassed and because of the money he will command.
    CC – Nova – Hughes (who now a year removed from the dreaded Verducci effect we should see what kind of pitcher he really is) – Burnett and we lets DJ Mitchell, David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Hector Noesi battle it out for the number 5 spot.
    If Noesi or Mitchell doesn't win the 5th spot you keep them as the long man filling the "Aceves" role, a role that Noesi has had some success in. Send the others down and keep them stretched out and ready to be called up. Hopefully we can get a handshake deal with Garcia like we did with Javy, offer arbitration, and collect a pick when he walks.
    Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos should NOT be in line to open the rotation with the team. Sorry guys I know we want to see these guys come up and kick ass, but they haven't even figured out AAA. Warren, Phelps, Noesi, and Mitchell are all more major league ready than the two B's even if they don't project as well.

  13. Wow way to proof read. Sorry that second paragraph was my contingency plan in case Darvish gets too pricey, which given the numbers he has put up is certainly a plausible scenario. Iv been awake for a while sorry guys :)

    • Hahaha thats been an ongoing joke in the Yankees blogosphere. Odds are with TJ surgery he wont be ready for even the start of next year. That and the Yankees brass has no intention of making him a starter. I mean why would they? "His stuff plays up so well in the pen" *rolls eyes*

      • i was in that same boat until i thought about his shoulder injury (which led to TJ)…. it's not that his "Stuff plays better" (ya… i know that's what cash "said") in the pen… it's that they don't think the fella can actually last a full season.

        at this point the TJ surgery is a second thought for most players… shoulder issues are another story.

        i don't agree with the FO all of the time, and when i heard the "plays better in the BP" i was irritated, but it turns out they might have known better when it comes to joba. we could always take the nolan ryan approach and pitch them into the ground until they fold, but i don't know what they think of cowboy hustlers in NY.

        • I am glad the front office admitted it was because they don't think Joba can hold up for a year, but, in that case, why did we refuse to put him in to get Dan Haren? That is one that will bug me forever. If Joba's durability was a question, it was surely known last summer.

  14. I want nothing to do with Wilson, i know he's good and would improve our team next yr but i know way do i think he's a good idea for 6 yrs 100m
    I would love to get Darvish, the age combined with the number he's putting up and the stuff, looks like he will transition better than previous Japanize pitchers. I really like the idea of the contract not being so big that it would be another anchor around our neck like AJ's is. It hard not to like adding that talent level and only being 25 without trading the entire farm or paying 20 plus million a yr.

    If they can't get him i would somehow patch together another rotation like this yr and wait for the Hamels, Cain, Danks class the next yr

  15. We're in first in the AL with our current rotation. I see no reason not to go into next year with the same 5-6 guys we have had starting, depend on the system to fill the gaps, and then hope to make a big trade if necessary, just like this season, when everyone expected a big trade.

    • Whose to say they want to come back? They were signed to one year prove it deals. Well theyve certainly proven it. So why would they come back for one year when they can probably get a 2 or 3 from some other team? Plus do you think Garcia can keep up his career best HR/FB ratio and continue to trick the AL East next year? And can Colon keep 2 Seamering people to death? Plus if one of these kids does the job well having a young cost controlled arm is a much more valuable trade chip than a retread veteran who people expect to blow up at any given time.

  16. I think that Brien is right on the money, but with too narrow a scope. 2012 will not just be a bridge year for the Yankees, but for all of baseball. Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols will make a difference for whatever teams end up signing them, but other than those two, there isn't a lot of impact available via free agency. Teams that want to improve are going to have to rely on young guys and trades. DPR mentions that he would like to see the Yankees sign Darvish because if we don't the Sox might. If we don't, the Sox might also not. If we don't and the Sox do, he may be a bigger albatross for them than Dice-K. The only reason to sign a free agent is if the team has a need at a position and cannot adequately fill that need either internally or through a trade. C.J. Wilson might fill those requirements if someone offers Colon a contract longer than one year (I am in favor of letting Garcia walk no matter what) and there are no trades available for a starter of similar quality, but even then I don't think 6/100 is a fair price for Wilson. 4/60 or 5/70 strike me as more accurate valuations given his age and limited track record.

    • It's too bad that Brien left out any possible trade opportunities in this article, which will play a big part in general considering the FA market is so thin.

      At least we didn't have to sit through another jeter or chass article when he runs out of material.

  17. The trade market is too unpredictable, so it's just futile to speculate about it now. But yes, obviously the possibility of making a trade exists as well.

  18. The best bang for the buck is Mark Buerhle.

    This guy is a real #2 and would be awesome behind CC. He's only 33 and hasn't pitched less than 200 innings in a season since his rookie campaign in 2000. He seems like a Sox lifer, but I think he can be pried away. Money and championships have that allure.

    Otherwise I'd go after Buerhle's teammate, John Danks. He's, having an off year, which might bring his price down. Only 26 years old, and has potential to become a #2, though he's really a #3. Adds a second lefty for the rotation.

    I'd also take a look at Paul Mahom of the Pirates and Joel Pineiro on the Angels as a #4 option.